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Diabetes Symptoms

The most important diabetes symptoms to spot are probably those that indicate that you have one of the types of diabetes.

Type 1 - Signs & SymptomsAlissa - 7 years after first experiencing symptoms of diabetes 

It can be hard to recognise the early symptoms of the onset of Type 1 diabetes, although they tend to develop more quickly than for patients with Type 2.

The warning signs can include some or all of the following:-

  • you feel more thirsty
  • you need to urinate more frequently
  • sudden, unexplained loss of weight
  • feeling tired or sleepy
  • sometimes, vision can be blurred

Initial diagnosis can be made by a simple blood test in your doctor's surgery.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes can often be overlooked - in fact, it's estimated that there are thousands of people suffering from it and simply putting up with the symptoms.

The signs and symptoms are similar to those of Type 1, but can be less noticeable as they develop over time.

If you're at all concerned that you may have one or more of these symptoms, a simple blood sugar or urine test can help to prevent unpleasant complications that occur if it is ignored.

Thoughts from Alissa on Signs and Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes


There are a few things which may be an indicator of type 1 diabetes, and if any of these are apparent in you or your child, seek medical advice.


There is a very accurate, very quick blood test which your local doctor’s surgery can use to tell whether or not it is diabetes, as some of these symptoms are quite general signs of being unwell.


I will now show you the symptoms I experienced before an accurate diagnosis was made by my doctor.


 - Weight loss

Looking back at photos of myself that were taken the summer before my diagnosis, I was unbelievably thin with an almost ghostly appearance. I was far below my recommended weight.


The reason for this was that my body was trying to find some energy from somewhere, as only a very small percentage of what I was eating was being used as energy (because there is no insulin to make it into energy).


My body was using the stored up fat cells as energy, and therefore I was losing weight.


The other part to this is that the person is usually really hungry, because the body needs this energy to run on.


 - Frequent urination

This usually goes hand in hand with drinking a lot. The reason behind urinating so much is that the body is trying to respond to having so much sugar in the blood by trying to flush it out through the urine.


I was actually told by my doctor that I had cystitis in the year leading up to finding out I was diabetic. I remember one 2 hour car journey in which I frustrated my father because I had to stop at every possible rest stop or gas station in order to go the toilets.


 - Headaches/migraines

Before my diabetes diagnosis, I was diagnosed with migraines. This is a start to the body releasing ketones as a result of too much glucose in the bloodstream.


Other symptoms can be nausea, vomiting or breath that smells like pear-drops.


 - Thirst

This is a very bizarre sensation, and is incredibly common pre-diagnosis.  It can be one of the first warning signs.


I was drinking unusual amounts of water and the thirst seemed unending. This is to replace the water in the body lost through frequent urination, your body will just try to rebalance the water levels in the body to keep it functioning at its best.


 - Tiredness

Huge dark circles under my eyes and a complete loss of energy were apparent before I became officially ‘diabetic’.


I remember my family went on a walking holiday to Switzerland a few weeks before diagnosis, and I was uncommonly out of breath and thus seemingly unfit for a child of only 11 years.


This is because the food that I ate couldn’t turn into energy properly.


This article on diabetes symtoms was written by Alissa Carter - who has been diabetic since 1996.


Further Reading


Diabetic Recipes to try - our favourite recipes from our home


Type 1 Diabetes - what it is, why it happens, what the latest research says